By JT Ellison
Via: JT Ellison
By JT Ellison
Hi, guys! Amy here, wondering how are we at the end of February!?! Not that I’m complaining: you know I’ve been waiting for spring for the past few weeks. I spotted the first buttercups peeking out of the ground this week, and I flushed with giddy excitement.
But I digress . . .
This is beyond precious: kids practice reading to shy shelter dogs at Missouri humane society. Be still, my beating heart!
When I worked for HarperCollins, cover meetings were always my favorite. I loved getting to see someone else’s visual representation of what a story was all about, and to watch that cover evolve over time (believe me: there are several iterations of a cover before the book hits shelves). This was a fascinating read from a book cover designer who crafted one of the coolest covers I’ve seen in a while.
Game of Thrones fans: George R.R. Martin has revealed that his (forthcoming TBD) sixth book in A Song of Ice and Fire, THE WINDS OF WINTER, features a character that’s been killed off in the show. Oh my! I’m curious to see how the two plots diverge even further . . .
Book World Alert: Barnes & Noble says they have an Amazon-like store in the works.
This is the best Harper Lee tribute I read.
You guys. Library bars are a real thing!
I love to cook—a lot. When we were first dating, Boyfriend opened my spice drawer (one of them, anyway) and jumped back about three feet, baffled by the sheer volume of spices I had (hey, they’re basically my grown-up box of 96-count Crayolas). It takes a lot for a recipe to get on my regular rotation, and this one just did. I love Greek/Turkish food with all my heart, and I swear, I think this recipe for homemade gyro meat must be identical to my favorite Turkish place in town. Wow, mama, are these delicious! Any extra meat you have leftover would freeze beautifully, I’d wager (and you’re gonna want leftovers—trust me).
J.T. wrote a blog post about Imposter Syndrome, a new buzzword flying around the creative world, and why it’s a bunch of rubbish (need a boost? read this post).
On The Wine Vixen, I wrote about this delicious Sauvignon Blanc that YOU MUST have in your life this spring. Seriously. This is the best white I’ve had in quite a while AND it’s under $20.
And don’t forget: there’s a Goodreads giveaway to win one of 30 advanced copies of J.T.’s new Taylor Jackson prequel, FIELD OF GRAVES! Look at it this way: your odds of winning a copy far outweigh your chances of winning the lottery. Just sayin’.
That’s it from me! I hope you find buttercups, chocolate, and good books somewhere in your life this week. I’ll talk to you soon!
Via: JT Ellison
By JT Ellison
He was a yeller, something I’d never experienced, and his bite was, sadly, as bad as his bark. He liked to make points, and when he did, inevitably with an audience, I always felt humiliated and embarrassed. As a grown up, I look back now and realize he was a deeply, deeply unhappy person who had zero communications skills (strange, considering the profession).
This has always been a dark time for me to think about. I wanted that job so badly, and when I landed it, I was so proud. It was a coveted, enviable position, and at the time, I was on a pretty big tear, career-wise. My future looked bright.
After only a few months, unable to handle the constantly shifting sands, unreasonable hours, slightly shady things going on, and my total inability to do the job to his satisfaction, I left in a blaze of burnt bridge glory (go, me!). He did a great job of making sure I couldn’t find another position, too. Lovely, right?
It wasn’t my first big challenge in a job, but it was the first that I couldn’t find any way to resolve. And I tried. I consulted my mentors. I talked to other people in the field. Randy and I were dating at the time; I spent night after night complaining to him. It was a disastrous, unhappy few months, and I ended up getting out of the industry entirely because of it.
Also, I now completely and totally understand the job, and know it is NOT FOR ME! So technically, by being a jerk, he saved me. Cue irony.
So you can understand the panoply of emotions that bombarded me when I ran into said former boss on a recent flight.
He was ahead of me in line, and, of course, seated in the window to my aisle. He’s somewhat well-known, so I’ve seen him from time to time on television, but it had been twenty-some odd years since I saw him in person. As I eavesdropped on his last minute phone call, I realized he was still up to his old tricks.
I couldn’t help myself. I waited for the call to finish, and as I was stashing my carryon in the overhead, I greeted him, by full name. The conversation went a bit like this:
I trotted off and when I got back, he was feigning sleep. He stayed that way through the whole flight (missing the drink service, which I’m sure, knowing what he’d just been dealing with, he needed), the landing, and disembarking.
And I was on top of the world. Which pretty much makes me as big of a jerk as he was.
I didn’t tell him what I do now. I didn’t tell him anything. I didn’t have to, I know what I’ve accomplished since I left his employ. He treated me horribly, blackballed me so I couldn’t get another job in the field, and his petty nonsense used to have me in tears daily. Leaving was the smartest thing I could have done. Clearly, I managed to rise above that position. I succeeded in following my dreams. I succeeded despite him.
That brief moment on the plane, being able to remind him of a moment in time when he was a jerk to a kid starting out felt like absolutely fucking vindication, twenty years in the making.
And then, of course, I felt obnoxious for even having that thought. It is NOT how I approach my life. Ever. I am a big believer in everything happens for a reason. I value negative experiences because they teach me how I don’t want to live my life. It’s too short to be caught up in stupid stuff that happened in the past.
I’m weird. I admit this freely.
I think everyone has had that jerk of a boss, that person who treated you unfairly. For many people, it is the impetus to leave an unhappy situation, and for some, to strike out into an artistic field. It didn’t work that way for me, not immediately. It took marriage, a few more jobs, a new city, and a sick cat for me to finally allow myself to become a writer, though I’d known all along that’s the dream I wanted to follow.
Writing, for me, was like falling into cool water on a hot, steamy day. It saved me, in more ways than one. It gave me the identity I’d long been searching for. It gave me hope. I found new friends, new freedoms, and basically started my life over again. I was 37 when my first book came out. Happily, I got to find my bliss earlier than some.
This is not going to be a popular concept. I know a lot of people are fully convinced that their strange feeling of dislocation when it comes to having success in a creative field is due to this label. I’m willing to bet most creatives have these thoughts in their head (like I do):
I’m so lucky. I’m doing something fun, creative, exciting, getting to work in my pajamas and make my own hours and make money at it. People read my books and blog and say nice things and ask me to do more, and hurry up already . . . but someone’s going to figure out I’m a total fraud, and then I’ll be exposed, homeless, left to eat out of trashcans and wander aimlessly, talking to the squirrels.
This, according to the definition, is rather classic Imposter Syndrome.
So here’s where I call BS.
Everyone feels that way. You are not alone, special, or any sort of martyr because you feel like a fraud at what you do, and that you don’t deserve your success.
Here’s the official Wikipedia explanation of Imposter Syndrome:
Impostor syndrome (also spelled imposter syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women, while others indicate that men and women are equally affected.
So basically, a bunch of women’s brains got together without proper invitations and RSVPs and decided, “Hey, you super suave, spectacularly smart chick — we’re going to pull the rug out from under you and make you feel like you’re not worth anything because there’s a SYNDROME that explains why you feel a sense of dislocation at being rewarded for following your heart, your dreams and succeeding at what you love.”
Please don’t fall into this trap.
The whole idea of Imposter Syndrome is flawed, and it sucks. No one thinks they’re excellent at their jobs except brain surgeons and heart surgeons, who can’t afford to be anything but cocky and arrogant because they are playing with the very organs that makes you human. Okay, maybe fighter pilots. But the rest of us are left out here trying to feel like we’ve done the best we can, and no one can live up to their own expectations of themselves.
No one is perfect. No one is always awesome. Everyone has doubts. Everyone feels like they don’t deserve the accolades, the compliments, the money. Everyone gets a 1-star review. IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN IMPOSTER.
This idea that we need to be cuddled and soothed every time we take a chance is silly. We try. Some times we succeed, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we fall down and people have to pick us up. Sometimes we don’t succeed, and we have to start over. Sometimes, we get our dreams.
Humility is great up to a point. The idea of humility so blown out of proportion that we’ve convinced ourselves we are frauds who don’t deserve the respect we have earned by working our asses off is unhealthy, to say the least.
I know our brains are weird places. Dear God, I of all people know this. (Hellooo OCD, anxiety, fear of public speaking, etcetera.)
But please, I beg you, please stop this Imposter Syndrome crap. You are gorgeous. You are smart. You work so hard for what you have. You are an artist, a mother, a wife, a sister. A husband, a brother, a creator. You deserve all the good things in this world. Don’t hold yourself back from them because it’s cool to be humble.
There’s a difference between humility and deciding you have a pathological disorder, and using it to hide from your gifts.
I forgive you for being a jack off. Cause look what running into you all these years later did for me. I am NOT an imposter, thank you very much. I am a writer, and I love my job.
And that’s good enough for me.
Via: JT Ellison
By JT Ellison
Hi, guys! Amy here, reveling in the sunshine and warmth we’ve gotten in the South over the weekend. Even though our winter has been fairly mild, I am SO READY for spring: flowers, blue skies, soft, green grass . . . my soul stretches a little bit more when the world feels alive. Maybe I should move to a private island.
Or maybe I should win the lottery first before I continue that train of thought.
The Guardian published an article about the Koh-i-Noor, the storied diamond behind J.T. and Catherine’s first Nicholas Drummond novel, THE FINAL CUT. It’s mostly accurate, too.
Cat lovers, rejoice: the Orange Collar Project aims to get lost cats home (!).
While she’s on social media sabbatical, J.T. hasn’t stopped reading things (if she did, she’d explode—trust me). So writers, read up: here’s a collection of links she curated just for you:
A very thoughtful piece on accessing and building vulnerability: What’s Your Kryptonite?
If you don’t subscribe to Steven Pressfield’s blog, you should. This week: the difference between subject and theme.
A beginner’s guide to growing and maintaining men’s long hair. (five words: Matt. Damon. Man. Bun. YES.)
How writing helps you think. (especially the part about note taking. I always absorb more when I write it down.)
Use your own voice, people, the one thing that can’t be taught: Serious Writer Voice. J.T. recommends all writers learn the grammatical rules of their trade, and then trust themselves enough to know when to break those rules.
Have any of you been watching the BBC’s War and Peace miniseries? Thanks to the show, the book shot up on bestseller lists for the first time since the last century. Call me crazy, but this might be one I’d watch instead of read. Sorry, Tolstoy.
Also, Chris Stapleton won a bunch of Grammys, and that made me very excited. He and his wife, Morgane, have been hidden gems around Nashville for years, and I’m glad he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. Listen to this recording of the two of them singing this folk-bluesy version “You Are My Sunshine.” They’re just delightful.
Agents turned booksellers in this interview, and I just loved it.
On the Tao this week, we hosted J.T.’s friend, YA author C.J. Redwine, who just released a new series!
If you’re looking for some cheap weekend reads, here are a couple of ebook deals for you:
Well, folks, that’s it from me. Let’s cross our fingers for spring, and I’ll see you next week!
Via: JT Ellison
By JT Ellison
C.J. Redwine is a rather amazing writer. She’s a rather amazing woman, actually. As a huge force on the Nashville YA-writer scene, she juggles some hefty deadlines with her multitude of kids, biological and adopted from foreign countries. Her writing is fierce, fantasy-laden, and tough (I mean, really, how can you not a love a trilogy named Defiance?). C.J. conducted an interview with me several years ago, which was possible the most fun I’ve ever had answering questions – from Captain Jack Sparrow, of course. She’s proof you can have it all – and I predict more great things to come. Here’s C.J.!
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
“I Dare You” by Shinedown
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
I’m working on the next book in the Ravenspire series. It’s due this coming Monday so it’s basically all I’m doing with my life right now.
What’s your latest book about?
THE SHADOW QUEEN is a dark epic fantasy inspired by the Snow White fairy tale. It’s the story of a fugitive princess who has become a fierce warrior, a wicked queen who is the most powerful sorcerer the kingdom has ever seen, and a desperate dragon shape-shifter prince from a neighboring kingdom who makes a deal to become the queen’s huntsman to save his people from destruction.
Where do you write, and what tools do you use?
I write either at my desk in my office or at the little back corner table at the coffee shop in my local bookstore. I use a notebook and Pilot gel pens for plotting, world building, character development, and fix-it notes. I use my laptop for everything else. And I always use a playlist developed specifically for that one story so that as soon as I hear those songs in that order, I’m instantly transported to the story’s world.
What was your favorite book as a child?
My boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia. I still have that set. It’s in my daughter’s room now. And it’s decorated with puffy rainbow stickers because apparently 9-year-old C.J. thought that was EPIC.
What’s your secret talent?
I can snort just about anything up my nose on accident. Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of recent offenders: Chicken nuggets (this is what death feels like), Diet Coke (sinus douche!), a tiny shard of a tortilla chip that defied gravity and leaped from my lips straight up my nose (moment of silence for his courage), bread pudding (I was really worried the raisins were going to be permanently lodged …), and wasabi (spontaneous combustion starts in the sinus cavity, I always say).
What book are you reading now?
I don’t read while I’m heavily drafting, but my reward for finishing this book is Renee Ahdieh’s THE WRATH AND THE DAWN.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in second grade and was given an assignment to write a 3-paragraph story. I turned in 4 pages (with illustrations!) and never looked back. Story-telling is how I translate my experiences.
Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?
J.K. Rowling! I haven’t met her, and I love that you actually think I have a cool to keep. Awkward fangirling all the way, baby!
What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?
Stop and do something mostly mindless so I can let the story play around in my head until the solution shows up. By mostly mindless, I mean take a walk or a drive or … I was going to say do housework, but let’s not get crazy.
Are you creatively satisfied?
Yes, while at the same time always striving for more. At least once a week, I wish I could be one of those people you hear about sometimes that can sleep maybe 3 hours a night and they’re fine. Martha Stewart is like that. Of course that led her to believe she should do things like make her own mirrors out of little sheets of silver that you can only find from like … three vendors in the entire country, so … maybe that’s not such a great idea.
What would you like to be remembered for?
For loving people well.
Alright, now for the really important questions:
Beach or mountains? Beach! (But with mountains and cliffs)
Coffee or tea? Peach tea
Skydive or bungee jump? Oh dear Lord, my stomach just plummeted. Nope. ALL THE NOPE.
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. If you’re going to ingest the calories, you might as well go for broke.
Winter or summer? Autumn!
Cake or pie? PIE. YES. PIE. EVERY DAY. PIIIIIIIIIIIIE.
Cats or dogs? Cats, though I love dogs too.
Pens or pencils? Pens! Pilot gel pens in a rainbow of color options, to be specific.
Truth or dare? Truth
Print or ebook? Print, though ebooks for trips are the best thing since pie.
C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and Sherlock. She is the author of the Defiance trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy from Balzer + Bray. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. To learn more about C.J., visit her website at www.cjredwine.com.
Think you’d like THE SHADOW QUEEN? Learn more here!
Via: JT Ellison
By JT Ellison
Hi, guys! Amy here, trying my best to fill J.T.’s big shoes (metaphorical, of course) while she’s on her annual Social Media Sabbatical for Lent. You may know me as the other half of The Wine Vixen, where I review mostly white wines (I’m a sucker for Riesling and Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc) and beg J.T. to come with me to review Nashville restaurants. It’s a really tough sell, let me tell you. I also love Mexican food, NPR, and greyhounds.
I mean, come on, how could you not?!
They are also 45 mph couch potatoes that love to sleep.
ANYWAY. You came here for links, and links are what you’re going to get. J.T. is still reading things while she’s on sabbatical, so some of these links are hers and some are mine. We’ll be dividing things up like this until after Easter. There will be lots about food, books, and dogs, just so you know.
And without further ado . . .
Here’s something to stick in your back pocket: 9 Dates for Book-Loving Couples. (Boyfriend, take note: literary road trip!!!!)
You know what would be a great companion for your literary road trip? This literary road map, OF COURSE.
If you’re in the Knoxville area and want a cheap, low-key Valentine’s meal, head to Sweet P’s BBQ. The original location is on the river, just off the Maryville Pike, but there’s a downtown location, too. 3 courses (including wine pairings for each course!) are only $25. Just sayin’, folks. And the regular menu is open, too, perfect for a Lady & the Tramp moment over a rack of ribs!
This is the book I’m obsessing over right now: Ariel Lawhon’s FLIGHT OF DREAMS, which is coming out in a couple of weeks. An expertly-paced plot, intricate historical details, and a lovely romance against the backdrop of tragedy. This ain’t your mama’s historical fiction.
If you’ve been hiding under a rock, you might not have heard that J.K. Rowling is giving us an 8th Harry Potter book . . . sort of.
Writers, take note: Steven Pressfield is discussing theme, and it will change your writing in the best possible way.
Fascinating article from the Nashville Scene: KFC Has Created the Luke Bryan of Hot Chicken.
Also, I’m a TV junkie who’s a frequent binge-watcher. My latest binge-watch was Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, which just came on Netflix. Oh my. It’s dark, for sure, but has some spit-things-out-of-your-mouth funny moments (that, um, happened to “a friend”), courtesy of Merritt Wever’s character, Zoey Barkow. Edie Falco is excellent in this, and while there are some plot points that raise my eyebrow, I thought it was an overall well-done series. I watched 7 seasons in . . . well, a shamefully short amount of time.
And speaking of TV, I know J.T. nearly shrieked with excitement when she found out that Deborah Harkness’s All Soul Trilogy is being adapted for television!
Even MORE TV news: Outlander Season 2 will debut April 9, and here’s a trailer (!). Even if you haven’t read the books, the show is worth a watch. J.T. would call blasphemy on this statement, but I think the show may be just as good as the books (sorry, boss, just being honest . . . ).
On The Wine Vixen, J.T. and I compiled some of our favorite wines for you and your honey to enjoy tonight, and I wrote about tasting the (supposedly) most cancer-fighting wine in the world.
Are you a fan of the book (or movie) THE MOSQUITO COAST? Then you need to catch J.T.’s newest A Word on Words interview with the unforgettable Paul Theroux! If you missed J.T.’s A Word on Words interview with Greg Iles (author of NATCEZ BURNING and THE BONE TREE), you can watch it here.
If you’re in the mood for creepy love stories, Two Tales Press has the MAD LOVE bundle on sale for $0.99!
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you. Happy Valentine’s Day, have fun with your loved ones, and I’ll see you next week!
Via: JT Ellison
By JT Ellison
As I write this, it hasn’t begun quite yet, and I’ve been cruising through Facebook and Twitter, having wee panic attacks at the thought of 6 weeks without either. Plus, of course, I have a book launching toward the end of Lent (which is from February 10 to March 24 this year.). This is an accurate portrayal of my inner struggles.
Thankfully, I have the Divine Amy, who will be running the show while I’m away.
In this day and age, it really is hard to simply disappear, especially when, like on my Facebook page, we have a community going. The cool thing is, said community can function without me. These people know each other. They talk, they share book recommendations, they tell each other jokes and lift each other up. It’s just that I’ll miss stopping by, chatting, being a part of everyone’s lives.
That’s a good question. 2016 is my Year of Lent. I’m working to hard loosen my hold on things that aren’t in my control. For someone who keeps about 6 calendars for fear of screwing up and forgetting something important, you can imagine how difficult this is for me.
Lent is about giving up things that are precious to you. My online community is VERY precious to me. And, as happens, I’m spending too much time on social media and not enough time on writing.
But that’s the cop out answer, too. The truth is, I need to find some quiet space. There have been a lot of changes this year, a lot of cacophony at home, with construction and sick cats and leaks and family issues, and I need to slow down, turn inward, find some space for my creativity to flourish. I’ve been running away from a few stories that are begging to get out. I have new deadlines on everything, a massive shift in content creation, and I need to make excellent use of my time to get ahead of the game, so to speak.
I am a natural multi-tasker, which isn’t a good thing. Proof positive right here. I’ve been feeling the strain of trying to juggle too many things, so I am looking forward to mono-tasking, and really accomplishing a ton.
Because normally during Lent, I get a LOT of work done. One year I wrote 60,000 words in 6 weeks. Another I drafted two short stories and revised a full manuscript. I have great hopes for getting the new Nicholas Drummond book done, then getting a big jump start on the new Sam novel. And I have a short story that wants to come out and play. The blog needs tending. Amy and I are working on a secret project.
Plenty to do.
Lent, for me, is a time of great creativity, of quiet reflection, of focusing on what’s in front of me. There will be some travel, a lot of reading, and, I hope, a bit of peace for me to fill my well with.
Via: JT Ellison
By JT Ellison
Hi, y’all, happy Monday! Just wanted to let you know about a new Goodreads giveaway I have. Thanks to my publisher, Gallery Books, you can enter to win one of 30 advanced reader copies of NO ONE KNOWS!
FYI: the giveaway ends February 22. Good luck!!!
Via: JT Ellison
By JT Ellison
Hi, lovelies! Who are you cheering for tonight? I’ll be decked out in my Broncos regalia, cheering on Peyton and the boys. I do hope they win for Peyton’s sake, especially if it’s his last game. Talk about going out on a high note, right?
Get ready: this is an extra-long Smatterings this week. But I know you can handle it!
Ok, first things first: you need to read this book. I’m serious. Ariel Lawhon has written a captivating, immersive story full of intricate historical details, intrigue and romance—all aboard the Hindenburg’s final journey. It’s not a book you’re not soon to forget.
Scientists may onto a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. So cool!
Also, LOOK at this pen! (What? I’m a sucker for cool writing instruments.)
I must say, this is an excellent theory: Harry Potter fan theory links Dursleys to the Deathly Hallows.
Aside from the first line of this interview (um, who hasn’t heard of Nora Roberts, even in England?), this is an interesting read: Nora Roberts: The woman who rewrote the rules of romantic fiction.
Self-love is important. The end. Here’s how to be nicer to yourself.
The history of the ampersand is more interesting than you’d think.
A fabulous rant on how we writers can get lazy with our craft: Why I’m Taking a Break From Contemporary Romance. (heads up: this is pretty NSFW)
For creatives, sometimes it’s a bit too easy to compare your success with someone else, studying why they may have more than you do. Here’s how you can combat that feeling.
This is how to ease yourself into great writing.
I’m pretty pumped for my pal, YA author Victoria Schwab, whose crazy-successful A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC is getting adapted for TV by Gerard Butler!
Ever wish you had a road map for your literary adventures?
One of my favorite bookstores, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, is turning 25! And they’re celebrating with a giveaway!
PSA: have you added my new standalone, NO ONE KNOWS, to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list?
If you’re itching for some free books, I have TWO Goodreads giveaways going on right now: one for a copy of THE FINAL CUT, and one for an ARC of my Taylor Jackson prequel, FIELD OF GRAVES (coming your way this June!).
And I had a fabulous time with InD’Tale Magazine, and you can read our interview here! We covered the gamut: Jaws, the White House, true love, and more.
So I got to interview the brilliant Greg Iles about his latest book, NATCHEZ BURNING, for A Word on Words. The show aired this morning and will be on again Thursday night. He’s just as cool as he is brilliant, which is saying something. I really enjoyed our conversation!
Don’t forget: I’ve got three unconventional love stories on sale for $0.99 at Two Tales Press!
On The Wine Vixen, I dished about this Pinot Noir, which you should take to your next big social gathering (i.e. like a Super Bowl party tonight!), and Amy raved about this Pinot Grigio. We also liked this article that divulges where you can find the best value wines in the world.
That’s all from me! I’ve got some news coming your way tomorrow, so pay attention to the social media feeds—you don’t want to miss it!
Via: JT Ellison